We had a Foraging Walk that was well worth the two years waiting. The first postponement was after a tornado leveled their property during one of their tribal ceremonies, the Caddo Mounds in Weeping Mary, which I wrote about here and here.
The second time was during the initial stages of the Plandemic, when I cancelled due to mask mandates.
On this fun foray, 3rd time was a charm, no storms, no masks and a very educational afternoon. Top 3 things I learned:
1. Medicinal weeds should never be dehydrated in a machine, something about chemistry. Two ubiquitous weeds I thought had no other redeeming qualities besides bee food: Goldenrod and Carolina geranium, are in fact beneficial medicinals.
2. There’s a compound in red cedar that inhibits the breakdown of alcohol for 18 hours. So, a common practice is to soak some branch tips in strong spirits for a month. The final product becomes kind of like Absinthe in that it’s potent enough to cause hallucinations, which can lead to great art, says me, or, a cheap date, says Hubby.
3. Foraging in areas where there was once iron mining operations, quite common around here apparently, unbeknownst to me, should be avoided due to potential mercury contamination.
A super exciting swarm event is next on the Fun list!
I’ve been wanting to populate a couple of re-furbished TopBar hives, but the dimensions are not the same as those Hubby’s crafted, so splits would prove very challenging.
I was hoping for swarms, and got one off the ‘bearding’ hive I recently wrote about (pictured above). They stationed themselves about 75 feet away in a young cedar tree and I got lucky to find them there immediately, while I was nearby harvesting mulberries. This is our first plentiful mulberry crop and I’m not sure what to make with them. Any suggestions?
I did recently learn from the Deep Green Permaculture site that it’s possible to get a 2nd crop of mulberries by cutting the branches back after the 1st harvest.
As far as the swarm goes, my first attempt was dismal, in the ‘Don’t do this!’ category of the pathetic novice, which I should know better by now, which I post so y’all can laugh at me, as I well deserve.
I don’t know what I was thinking! I wasn’t even good at holding a tray like that as a cocktail waitress. Spontaneous blasphemy makes this quick clip RATED R—For Mature Audiences Acting Immaturely Only. (Bet you didn’t know in a past life I was a sailor!)
The 2nd attempt was successful, thanks to Hubby, who sawed the branch off into my waiting hands so I could gently walked them over to their new hive. They seem to be adjusting nicely! These thoughtful bees saved me lots of messy work.
The Ninja* colony has attracted a gorgeous bird, which I’m pretty sure after consulting my field guide, is a Summer Tanager. Though I don’t approve of his hunting live bees, he does also forage dead bees under the hive, so he gets a pass.
*Ninja colony, so named due to their constant battling yet relatively calm nature. I believe this is at least partly due to their position right next to the house, where they get constant traffic, but seem unperturbed by it, unlike the more remote colonies at the far end of the orchard, who are just plain abusive.
Yes, we are in the middle of unprecedented weather, once again, in East Texas, among many other places. This is not ‘climate change’ as insisted on by the various establishment mouthpieces. This is also not a ‘Grand Solar minimum’ as proposed by ‘science’ establishment mouthpieces, or the various shills of ‘alternative’ media.
It’s weather warfare and if you don’t believe me I challenge you right now to prove me wrong. Do it in whatever way you wish—curse me in the comments as a conspiracy theorist nut job, list the establishment excuses pretending I’ve not heard them already, recite the usual ‘statistics’ proving this is somewhat ‘normal’ since it happened once already (supposedly) in 1930.
And thank you deeply to those friends and family who have reached out with their concern for us and our critters. This is rare and extremely appreciated. Thank the heavens that Handy Hubby is here, and on task. He has reinforced the corrals with tarps and brings the critters hot water and we’ve got all 4 big dogs inside, which is quite a tight situation here in our wee cottage.
Freezing temperatures and snow and ice accumulating for a week sounds normal for much of the country, but in East and South Texas this is unprecedented in any living memory. Our homes, plumbing, barns, infrastructure, etc., are not designed to deal with such weather.
It seems we’ve now got the worst of crazy climate convergences in one state—Drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, freezes, snowstorms, hail, and whatever else the weather terrorists dream up for us.
If you plan to join the growing number of hobby beekeepers the very first step should be to define your goals.I learned that the hard way.
It’s a wonderful thing to see the popularity of beekeeping keeps increasing.I love beekeeping for many reasons, but when I was first starting out the learning curve was very intimidating. And that’s coming from someone who usually adores learning.
Not only was there loads to learn about the bees themselves, but also about how to manage their colonies, which changes depending on your hive type, which is dependent on what your goals are as a beekeeper.
The first question to answer for yourself as a newbie is if you are interested in beekeeping as livestock or as habitat provider, or maybe both.
I had several mishaps in my first years because I hadn’t asked myself this most fundamental question.I hadn’t asked myself this because in all the books, forums, courses and club meetings I’d attended, no one asked this question.The general assumption is always that the beekeeper is interested in bees as livestock, because that’s what most want.
In this case, follow the commercial standards, using their Langstroth hives and peripheral equipment, their treatment schedules for pests and diseases, and their feeding programs and supplies, and you should be good to go.You can buy nucs (nucleus colonies) in the spring, and if all goes well you’ll have some honey before winter.This is by far the most popular route to take in beekeeping.
But it’s not for everyone, including me, which took me a few years to figure out.Honey, pollen, wax, propolis, royal jelly, queen rearing, and other processes and products from beekeeping are the main goals of this style of beekeeping and there’s lots to learn from the commercial operators who have mastered many of these skills for maximum efficiency and profit.
However, if you are interested more in providing habitat and learning from the bees, and creating truly sustainable, long-term, self-sufficient colonies in your space, following commercial practices is really not the way to go, and can lead to a lot of expense, confusion and frustration.
In the hopes of encouraging more beekeepers to become honeybee habitat providers rather than livestock managers only, here are a few tips and resources.
The conventional practice is to keep all your hives in a ‘bee yard’ for reasons of convenience and space.This is antithetical to bee colonies’ natural proclivity to nest far from one another. It creates problems of diseases and pests that spread rapidly in conditions of overpopulation, which is why so many treatments are needed, and then feeding when nectar/pollen flow is scarce, as well as being hyper-vigilant in your regular hive inspections to find issues immediately before they spread.Now that I have spaced my 6 hives out around a very large area I’m having far more success. But, only time will tell!
What else I’ve learned:
The typical Langstroth hive is made for easy transport and standardization purposes for the industry mainly, but they are not ideal for the honeybee habitat provider, because they are made with thin walls in order to be lightweight. This means they are poorly insulated and so not suitable for the long-term stability of the hive—getting too hot in summer in southern climates and too cold in winter in northern climates. Our top-bar hives and nucs have thick walls and insulated roofs.
If you want your bees adapted to your area and climate you don’t want to do the conventional practice of buying new queens every couple of years.Ideally, you’ll want your colonies to produce their own queens.Queen-rearing will remain an essential skill for a more advanced beekeeper, because occassionally you may still want to make splits to increase your numbers or to replace weak colonies, or to re-queen another hive displaying poor genetic traits.
When the colonies are weak, depending on the issue, they may need to be culled. This is rarely suggested by professional beekeepers who promote regular treatments on which the weak colonies then become dependent, while still spreading their weak genes on to subsequent generations and their diseases and pests to other colonies.
Just like the faulty logic of ‘herd immunity’ in the vaccine debate among human populations, many commercial beekeepers use the same complaint about those of us who want go au naturel,that is, treatment-free, with our bees.
Many scientists and researchers are trying to raise public awareness that this is not how herd-immunity works, not in livestock or in humans, and I applaud their efforts. I personally find referring to populations of people as a herd to be insulting. I think it actually trains individuals through neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to think of themselves and each other not as unique and separate individuals, but rather as cattle to be managed.
You’ll also want to mostly forgo the conventional practice of swarm prevention.The goal is for the bees to become self-sufficient, as in the wild, where colonies can live for decades with no hand from man to aid or to disturb.Some of these colonies are enormous, like one we found in an old oil barrel, there for over 15 years and thriving with multiple queens in the same colony, which most likely swarmed annually.
Swarming is a natural, bio-dynamic process performing many different functions for the colony, hygiene being an essential one. Everything the beekeeper takes away from their natural processes is a stress on them which must then be alleviated by other, most likely artificial, means.
Plant perennial and annual crops the bees like for your area and climate.Here in the south there are plenty of plants that bloom at different times most of the year, giving free bee buffets from early spring to late fall, like: bluebonnet, white clover, hairy vetch, wild mustard, vitek, morning glory, trumpet vine, yaupon, and lots of garden herbs and crops, too.It is my greatest pleasure to harvest cucumbers, peas, beans and arugula surrounded by forging bees—they love them as much as we do!
Experimenting and observing is the most fabulous feature of the honeybee habitat provider!
I know a homeschooling homesteader with an observation hive in their house that the children treasure.Not only do they learn from these fascinating creatures about how they operate in the hive, but how they are connected to the seasons and to their environment.They’re learning constantly from the colonies’ successes as much as from their failures.
I practice slightly different techniques with each hive to discover which methods work best here on the wee homestead: one hive has a screened bottom board, one I keep with a reduced entrance all year, one’s in full-sun and another partial shade, and so on.Not that this will necessarily solve the mystery of colony failure, but every bit of data helps!
Some unconventional resources:
The Shamanic Way of the Bee: Ancient Wisdom and Healing Practices of the Bee Masters by Simon Buxton (2004)
The Dancing Bees: An Account of the Life and Senses of the Honey Beeby Karl von Frisch (1953)
Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honeybee Health by Les Crowder & Heather Harrell (2012)
Natural Beekeeping: Organic Approaches to Modern Apiculture by Ross Conrad (2013)
Well, I have already exhausted my resources as far as well-meaning advice from the indoctrinated, ignorant, and ill-informed. Bless their hearts.
How do we secure our future on the wee homestead where we intend to retire and eventually die when weather terrorism masked as global climate change is wrecking havoc on our livelihood and general disposition and ability to constantly adapt?
Well-meaning advice: More insurance.
So we pay for more insurance so that business in the skies and in the criminal cartels we’ve named governments can continue as usual? But that’s not racketeering?
How do we protect the land and our personal commitment and calling as individuals when the states and communities are taking guidance from compromised institutions attending to steering committees of agendas far, far away from where we call our home? And, by idiots, no less.
Agenda 21/2030 aims to abolish private property under the guise of ‘sustainable development’ and EVERY Administration in this country for decades has been on board with this U.N. program. Including the CURRENT ONE!
Typical reply: That’s a conspiracy theory.
Really? Because, they have a f-ing website, moron! Pardon my f-ing French. Just a bit testy these days. Don’t mind me, I’ll just pour me another sherry.
Apparently the economy is brilliant, according to the Trump-Train.
Well, I believe that, believe it or not.It’s elementary to me by looking at our own expenditures of the Crazy-Train Spring 2019.
Because health care costs are ridiculous:
$3,700 for emergency room visit, 5 stitches to Handy Hubby’s hand.His first on-the-homestead accident/injury. Ridiculous health care costs thanks to insane policies of multiple administrations. Thanks, Corporatocracy! Great job at outrageous cost.
$4,000 new roof, thanks to increased weather modification/manipulation in our area, Geoengineering being ramped up thanks to widespread approval by the Trump-train.
$200 and counting for acupuncture treatments thanks to electricity surge on new electric meter that fried my shoulder something awful over 6 months ago. The garden is neglected, the household, too, my bad. The Trump-train loves 5G tech, bring it on! Yay!
4 days lost paid work for Handy Hubby, who had to take vacation time to normalize the homestead after manufactured ‘tornado’ dropped at least 2 dozen mature trees on our property, a half-dozen right around our house. Oh, but we are so blessed, none hit me or the house or the critters. Silver lining, brilliant!
Two weeks before that was baseball-sized hail, that meant $300 on a new windshield, that had just been replaced.
And all kinds of folks and communities around our area of East Texas are spending loads of $$ on damages of their own.Markets are thriving!Thank you, sir, may we have another?!Houston is promising to be a well-spring of endless catastrophe revenues, brilliant. I bet Trump did that! Or, fairies?
That’s including exciting and constant weather whiplash all year, like a weather rollercoaster at Disney Land, resulting in no pear crop this year and a complete lost effort with many other crops in the garden that go straight to seed from the constant fluctuating temperatures. Hurray!
Common sense alert: no crops thrive in weather whiplash! (Don’t rain on my parade, bitch!)
We can no longer afford the delusions of this economy. We are downsizing. Most of our meager holdings will meet freezer camp, unfortunately, as we come to grips with survival mode.
Let’s all enjoy our eternal non-inflation in the fantasmagorical Trump economy!
We have all kinds of sayings to ward off all kinds of issues, mostly with the intention of bypassing, minimizing, and moving on. Shit happens, right? Don’t let the bastards get ya down, eh? There’s always a silver lining. Don’t sweat the small stuff. The sun will come out tomorrow. Look at the bright side. Don’t cry over spilled milk. Buck up, buttercup!
I know, I know, I’ve heard it all and I’ve probably said half of it myself. Really though, when someone’s truly feeling down, no one wants to hear another ‘pick yourself up by your bootstraps’ slogan. A friend to cry in your tea or beer with would be loads more helpful, but sometimes that doesn’t help either.
I count my blessings, really, I do. I’m very good at that.
It’s just that, sometimes, nothing helps, at least not right away. Sometimes there’s a ‘something’s gotta give’ feeling that lodges itself for a while after a big, bad event, even if everything mostly turning out fine in the end.
The triumphs still feel too short-lived and the setbacks too many.
I remember to remember my favorite things, but the joy in them seems less renewing. This in itself is solemnifying.
Visitors are welcome, yet distracting.
I know nature is resilient and life goes on. The very morning after the ‘tornado,’ as I was assessing the damages, the birds were chirping, the critters begging for their meals, and Handy Hubby headed back home from work out-of-state to get us back into gear.
Still, despite my usual mood-shifting tricks, my gears still feel a bit stuck.
The snake getting fat on our eggs in the coop, a rabbit devouring the garden.
Oh, just let them be, I think, which is not really like me.
Sometimes that’s just the way it is.
And, this too shall pass.
“Tornado”? Unnamed, undocumented by local news, Rural East Texas April 2019
Another ‘severe storm’ expected tonight. A month of ‘tornadoes’ through our region, which we chose precisely because it was: ‘North of hurricane zone and south of tornado alley’. Not anymore.
I’m still at a loss for words. But don’t worry, not for long. Let’s let the photos speak for themselves, for now. East Texas is being weather bombed, while the local news sugar coats and bypasses. Consider me PISSED OFF.
No deaths, but considerable fear, chaos, lies and destruction. Just what the perfect non-lethal globalist warfare mongers strive for the most.
Big storms here in East Texas this weekend, so much for our BBQ plans!
It is mind-boggling to me that ‘climate change’ is such a contentious social/science/news issue keeping individuals polarized with mostly excessively emotional arguments and twisted statistics that further exacerbate the continued black and white thinking. We are being played!
Weather modification and weather warfare are facts and there are global industries catering to those in want of these services. It’s been facts for over 70 years. Few folks alive today know truly natural weather.
Weather Modification Corporations, Universities, and Derivative Traders
These organizations may not “control” the weather yet, but they sure are trying hard, and experimenting in your skies daily.
Is there a rainbow at the end of this scary story?
I think that’s most likely a ‘number’s game’. How many will realize modern warfare is not what you were taught by TV? How many will come to recognize the ‘psychopaths next door’? What will the masses do to protect themselves, or even, to fight back?